BREWHEADS: Snow Blind Doppelbock Lager

It's late January here in the Washington D.C. metro area, and we finally got snow. Holy hell we got a lot—at least two feet and counting! Good thing I bought some Snow Blind Doppelbock Lager by Starr Hill Brewing based in Crozet, VA. This may be the most appropriate and timely BREWHEADS column yet. If you find yourself shut-in by a blinding snowstorm, your survival kit must include a hearty beer and heavy metal. Go stock up on Snow Blind and play Black Sabbath!

Snow Blind Doppelbock clearly is a tribute to Black Sabbath and their song "Snowblind" from their 1972 album Black Sabbath Vol. 4. Need proof? Check out this Twitter exchange I had with Starr Hill in November last year.

Snow Blind is a winter seasonal brew available from November to January. So buy a six-pack as soon as you're done reading this because supplies are dwindling.

Doppelbocks are traditional German beers first brewed in the 1600s by monks to drink during Lent. According to the German Beer Institute web page:

Doppelbock (literally "double bock") is a stronger and usually darker version of the Bavarian Bockbier. It is exceptionally malty, with very little bitterness. Standard Doppelbocks may have as much as 7% alcohol by volume. In the strongest versions (around 10 to 13%), you can actually taste the alcohol.

I cracked open my last bottle of Snow Blind on 23 January in the middle of Snowmageddon 2016. My bottle was dated 10/28/15, which is three months old. However, since this is a low-hopped 7.7% ABV lager beer, it still tasted awesome.

Snow Blind pours a beautiful mahogany reddish-brown color and has great clarity. You can easily see your "Hand of Doom" through the glass when held up to the light. It has a sweet malty smell with a bit of raisin. The first thing that I noticed as I drank it was the sweetness and pronounced caramel flavor. There also is a slight roast taste. This has a pretty robust yet smooth mouthfeel with a very clean aftertaste. Starr Hill just barely bitters Snow Blind with Perle hops at 13 IBUs (international bitterness units). It seems the hops give it a faint minty taste. This is a very drinkable beer, and I love it! I have looked forward to Snow Blind each year since Starr Hill first released it in November 2013.

Starr Hill changed Snow Blind's label between for 2015. In fact, it appears they changed all their beer labels in mid-2015. I like the old label much better, which you can see here compliments of my brother-in-metal-beer Aaron Mendiola. Check out his review of Snow Blind he wrote a few weeks ago on his website Thanks and cheers Aaron!

If you look at the new label's artwork for clues as to whether this is a tribute beer to Black Sabbath, you would be hard pressed. The only things I found, aside from the obvious name, is snow falling in a nighttime setting, which correlates with the song's lyrics.

Snow Blind is not Starr Hill's first Black Sabbath tribute beer. They also brewed Sabbath Black IPA that debuted in August 2014. Sabbath was a one-off beer, but Starr Hill did tell me via Twitter they may brew it again later this year! If so, stay tuned for my review. Snow Blind debuted a year before Sabbath, but it wasn't until they released Sabbath—with its obvious nod to Black Sabbath—that I realized Snow Blind also was a heavy metal tribute beer.

If you find yourself in central Virginia, visit Starr Hill Brewery at 5391 Three Notched Road - Crozet, Virginia 22932. According to Starr Hill's website, they distribute their beers to Alabama, Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington D.C.

So after you're done shoveling out from Snowmageddon 2016, drink some Snow Blind Doppelbock Lager and watch this video gem of Black Sabbath performing live in front of rainbows and flowers at the 1974 California Jam. Damn the 1970's were weird!